Archive for the ‘Trusted Advisor’ Category

Is It Hackable? Our New Podcast Intends to Find Out

August 1st, 2017

Cyberattacks are becoming more and more prevalent. It seems like every day there’s another story about a cybercriminal attacking something new – an IoT teddy bear, support call logs, the list goes on. So, in light of these cybercrimes, McAfee has created a new podcast, called to explore what exactly makes these attacks successful. This 25-minute-long podcast takes hacks heard about in the news or seen on TV, and puts them to the test. Taking over the Wi-Fi at a bustling cafe, tapping into the computer of a moving vehicle, infiltrating someone’s webcam – these are just a few of the cyberattacks carried out by the crew of Hackable?.

In the first episode of Hackable?, Geoff Siskind, with the help of cybersecurity experts, tries to uncover the truth about how risky it is to use free Wi-Fi. In this episode, Geoff and team provide some key insights and details on the history of public Wi-Fi attacks. Then, with permission of the store owner, they head to a local coffee shop to conduct a real-world experiment and replicate a Wi-Fi hack that was featured in the show Mr. Robot.

In this Dallas café, the team sets up an Evil Twin access point and makes a malicious network appear to be from a national cellular carrier in the effort of hopefully attracting its customers. If these users connect to the malicious network, cybercriminals will gain access to their device.

And, as it turns out, about 22 people fell for the ploy, which permitted the McAfee team to see quite literally anything they wanted to on those devices. At this point, cybercriminals could inject malicious code into a webpage if they want to. So, if a victim opens their browser, they could actually be downloading malware.

To stay protected from this kind of attack, Geoff and the team recommends using a VPN (virtual private network), as well as staying cautious when joining unofficial public Wi-Fi networks.

So, if you’re eager to learn more about what makes cybercriminals tick or just need a little entertainment for your morning commute, make sure you listen to “Hackable?”, which is now available for download on any of the sites below:

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 


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Cybersecurity 101: Top Takeaways from Our Back to School Study

July 31st, 2017

The end of summer is almost here, which means both parents and their kids are starting to gear up for the new school year. Of course, the first homework assignment and first day outfits are top of mind, however, these teens will be thinking about their devices too — what devices they can bring to class, what they’ll post about school events, etc. But will they be thinking about what they need to do to keep these devices secure? To see how students approach device use and security in the classroom, we conducted a survey, Cybersecurity 101: Teens in the Classroom, of more than 3,900 high school students (9th-12th grade) around the world. Here are a few of our key takeaways: 

Students Are Devoted to Their Devices

Between social media and smart devices, kids are staying connected now more than ever before. And it looks like the use of these connected devices in the classroom is here to stay. 86% of students spend at least one hour per day using an internet-connected device during school hours for school-specific work. Technology has just become an everyday part of the classroom experience for students, as more than half (57%) of students spend three or more hours per day using a connected device during school hours for school-specific work.

But, it’s important to note, this connected work isn’t always done with pure intentions, as almost half of students (47%) claim to have seen or heard of another student using a connected device in the classroom to cheat on an exam, quiz, project or other assignment – with only 21% admitting to doing it themselves. Students are also defying the rules when it comes to cybersecurity restrictions as well. When it comes to getting around cyber restrictions put in place by schools, 24% of the students have successfully accessed banned content. Beyond that, almost half (45%) of the students were able to access any (21%), or some (24%) social media sites on school-owned connected devices.

Education Goes Beyond Normal Curriculum

So, what exactly is being done to address this defiance? Fortunately, both administration and teachers are actively trying to employ policy as well as educate these kids on why cybersecurity is so important. 80% of students surveyed think that their school takes the necessary steps to ensure at least the school-owned devices they use are protected from cyberthreats. And most students (86%) feel up-to-date and informed about cybersecurity education/guidelines from their school before accessing school-owned connected devices.

Why Is Security Is Still Struggling?

So, given schools are providing this education, the question is – why do security gaps still exist? The study discovered that, as teens age, cybersecurity education becomes less of a priority for parents. 50% of parents of children 14 to 15-years old regularly talk about staying safe online, but this percentage dropped to 30% for older teenagers 16 to 18-years old. Shockingly, 14% of 16 to 18-year olds have never talked with their parents about how to stay safe online.

Therefore, as a parent, it’s crucial you begin making cybersecurity a priority for your teens. To do just that, follow these tips:

-Talk to your teens. The best way to ensure your teen is staying safe online is to talk to them. Ask them about what they do online and encourage safe behavior like avoiding interacting with individuals they don’t know in real life.

-Use the social networks that your kids are using. Not only will you gain a better understanding about what your kids do online, but you will also become a more trusted source because you will know the ins and outs of their favorite apps/networks.

-Protecting all your devices. Be sure to install comprehensive security software, like McAfee LiveSafe, across all of your family’s devices. Having security software is essential to protecting your family’s devices and privacy.

And for teens, it’s important to keep the following pointers in mind for when you’re using your connected devices next:

-Mind what you share. Personal information should be shared in moderation and only when necessary. Also, ensure that you are enabling privacy settings within social networks. Without privacy setting enabled your profile is open to everyone, which could increase the chances of being bullied or personal photos being downloaded and manipulated.

-Keep passwords private. Avoid sharing passwords with anyone other than parents or guardians. Once you share your password you no longer have control of your account.

As for schools themselves, we have a few additional tips on how you can continue to improve your cybersecurity education:

-Create student contracts in the classroom. The first step to creating guidelines for devices in class is to clearly spell out the terms of a ‘classroom device usage’ so there is no room for misunderstanding. Certain conditions such as staying on task and being considerate of others’ privacy must be upheld by students for devices to be used for in-classroom work.

-Keep parents updated and involved. Parents need education too. Schools should frequently update parents about how technology is used in the classroom setting. Not only does this promote understanding and support from parents but, equally importantly, it helps bridge the technology gap between parents and their kids.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

 


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Running from Ransomware: A Mobile User’s Guide

July 25th, 2017

From the second my alarm goes off, my day goes 100 miles a minute. In addition to getting myself ready for work, I have to pack my kids some brag-worthy lunches, conquer the stack of unwashed dishes in the sink from the night before, and make sure that everyone is out the door on time. One day, in  the midst of all the usual mania, I had a horrible realization that I had forgotten to buy my mom’s birthday present.

To save myself some time, I whipped out my phone, scrolled through the net and explored a few last-minute gift options. In the corner of my eye, I saw an ad for some cute shoes she’d like from a retail site I had previously visited. Zoom, tap, bam! Browsing history comes through to help me find a present in the blink of an eye.

Last-minute online shopping isn’t the only thing our connected devices are good for. We rely on our mobile phones for the simplest things to navigate through our daily lives. From mapping directions, to scrolling through nearby restaurant reviews, to quickly scanning newsworthy articles, our devices accumulate a lot of personal data through our browsing history.

Although browsing history has come handy for me in certain situations, it often gets a bad rap on its own. Leaker Locker, the new mobile malware discovered by the McAfee team, has created a browsing history nightmare by leveraging surfing habits against mobile users.

When we’re navigating through the net, we usually (often wrongfully) assume that our information will remain private. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case. Our increased trust of the web and dependence on our connected devices has excited cybercriminals, causing the number of mobile malware threats to grow over 80% in the last year.

Hiding behind apps that can be found in the Google Play store, Leaker Locker harnesses its malicious ransomware by disguising itself as an unauthorized mobile backup. Present on two apps on the Google Play store, this ransomware disguised as an app leaves the everyday consumer, like you and me, vulnerable.

So how does Leaker Locker work? It attacks when the user allows device permissions to the newly downloaded, disguised app. Once the malicious app gains access to the device, the device is locked down, and a message pops up on-screen, announcing  that the owner’s sensitive information has been compromised. This private information is then used as a bargaining chip for a ransom.

Want to make sure you’re not the next victim of this ransomware? Follow these tips:

  • Attention, Please: Scope out the app’s listing on the app store, and read through its reviews carefully. Sure, an app might look like a fun game or seem to make your life convenient, but it pays to be vigilant. Many users leave helpful warnings to others about if a specific app has been disguised as a hub for ransomware. If the reviews or actual app listings seem fishy, steer clear.
  • Don’t Pay to Play: Cybercriminals love to demand money in exchange for the “safety” of your personal data. Although paying the ransom seems like a good idea, don’t fall for this trap! Paying the ransom doesn’t guarantee the return of your information. Be extra cautious and try to keep sensitive data off your mobile device.
  • Back It Up: Back up your personal information and files by taking advantage of both an external hard drive and the cloud. In the event that you get locked out of your mobile device, you’ll still have access to important data. This back up plan will give you a better peace of mind.

Mobile ransomware has been making headlines, and cybercriminals don’t plan on stopping anytime soon. Get educated and be familiar with their actions. To cover all of your bases, consider turning to a mobile security solution like McAfee Mobile Security (MMS) for Android. With newly designed features that allow you to browse more securely on mobile, MMS provides real time malware (ransomware included) detection capabilities. Most importantly, it gives you the power to safeguard against threats like Leaker Locker a single tap.

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.



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123456 Is Not an Acceptable Password in 2017

July 11th, 2017

Mirror, mirror on the wall, what is the safest password of them all?

We all know using a secure password is one of the best practices for protection on the web, but we don’t always practice what we preach. We’ve all been guilty of using our first street address or our first pet’s name as passwords, and dedicating that one login to all of our online accounts for the sake of simplicity. I can even admit that there was once a time that my phone was PIN-free—it’s just plain easier, and faster. I understand the long sigh that comes with having to sign in every time you want to use a device. However, it’s never a good idea to trade security for convenience, especially with devices or accounts that hold information as personal as your bank info or family address. Complex passwords help protect your online banking account, emails, and personal information from being accessed by prying eyes.

Yes, secure logins are a crucial layer for account protection, but in all honesty, humans are creatures of habit. We love to use the same password for multiple accounts, use easy-to-remember birthdays or nicknames, or simply don’t change default passwords on devices.

Recent breaches have reminded us that passwords should always take priority (they’re so important, we’ve acknowledged a World Password Day dedicated to changing your passwords!). History has shown us that hackers love and live for bad passwords, so using poor passwords for important accounts will increase your vulnerability to a hack. To make sure that you don’t a commit a security faux pas, check out this secure password checklist:

  • Don’t Use a Real Word: If your password contains a word from the dictionary, nix it. Don’t use the name of your favorite flower or the name of your pet. Instead, consider using either a made-up word, mix of ‘slang’ words, or even gibberish. The more complicated, the better!
  • Mix It Up: As almost all password readers are case-sensitive, consider using a mix of upper- and lowercase letters to be extra secure. Throw in some numbers and symbols to complicate the password, and stay away from your standard birthday or ‘123456’ password.
  • Use the Default and You’ll Be At Fault: All “smart” devices are equipped with default passwords, from your new smart thermostat to the drone you just got for your birthday. As soon as you take your gadget out of the box and set it up for use, change the password immediately, and make sure you update these passwords regularly.
  • “One Size Fits All” Doesn’t Apply: Don’t use the same password for multiple accounts. Although it may seem like a hassle to remember these passwords, the can’t-beat security will be worth the extra effort down the line. Password management solutions like True Key are helpful to keep track of all your login info, as well as generate secure, unique passwords for you.

It’s important to remember to change passwords early, and change them often, across all devices—this makes it extra difficult for cybercriminals to access your personal information. Protecting accounts and devices from their wired connection up to their web logins will help keep hackers at bay.

Interested in learning more about mobile security tips and trends? Follow @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.



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Millions of Android Devices Hit With CopyCat Malware

July 11th, 2017

Time and time again, we’ve seen Android malware make its way through mobile devices around the world. Now, a new mobile malware is here, and it has infected at least 14 million Android devices. Dubbed CopyCat, the malware has been found running a successful adware campaign, stealing credits earned by legitimate advertisers in the process.

The way CopyCat malware works is fairly simple. CopyCat spreads to users’ phones either through third-party app downloads or phishing. Once it has made its way to a device, the malware roots Android devices and injects its code into Zygote, a daemon tasked with launching apps on Android devices, which gives the malware a strong hold on affected devices. This allows the malware to then insert itself into the activity of all running apps.

From there, CopyCat commits both ad and app fraud by stealing credits earned by legitimate advertisers whenever one of their ads results in an application download, which are ultimately exchanged for revenue. This specific technique has never been seen before, and is actually more lucrative than traditional ad fraud. Plus, it’s experienced quite a bit of success already, as it claimed a whopping $1.5 million during a peak two-month period in 2016.

While the majority of victims of CopyCat are in Asia, more than 280,000 Android devices in the US have been hit by the attack. Therefore, no matter where you are, it’s important to start thinking of how to protect your Android device from this attack. To do just that, follow these tips:

-Always use legitimate app stores. Many victims of CopyCat were infected by downloading apps from third-party stores unaffiliated with Google Play. It’s crucial users only download applications from official stores, like Google Play or the Apple App store, to ensure they don’t become part of larger malware schemes like CopyCat.

-Keep your software updated. Even if you do avoid third-party app stores, remember that CopyCat can still spread through phishing scams. Therefore, to protect your devices from the attack, ensure all software is up-to-date, as updates typically include additional protection against emerging malware strains, such as CopyCat.

-Use a mobile security solution. As malware and adware campaigns continue to infect mobile applications, make sure your mobile devices are prepared for any threat coming their way. To do just that, cover these devices with a mobile security solution, such as McAfee Mobile Security.

And, of course, stay on top of the latest consumer and mobile security threats by following me and @McAfee_Home on Twitter, and ‘Like’ us on Facebook.

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10 Tips To Stay Safe Online

July 7th, 2017

With hacks, scams, malware and more, the Internet can feel like a dangerous place these days. And, the recent proliferation of devices, from smartphones and tablets to Internet-connected appliances, has opened us up to even greater risks.

But the good news is that by taking just a small handful of security measures we can greatly reduce our exposure to all these threats.

Here are some tips to help you get started:

1. Create Complex Passwords. We know you’ve heard it before, but creating strong, unique passwords for all your critical accounts really is the best way to keep your personal and financial information safe. This is especially true in the era of widespread corporate hacks, where one database breach can reveal tens of thousands of user passwords. If you reuse your passwords, a hacker can take the leaked data from one attack and use it to login to your other accounts. Our best advice: use a password manager to help you store and create strong passwords for all of your accounts.

Then, check to see if your online accounts offer multi-factor authentication. This is when multiple pieces of information are required to verify your identity. So, to log into an account you may need to enter a code that is sent to your phone, as well as your password and passphrase.

2. Boost Your Network Security. Now that your logins are safer, make sure that your connections are secure. When at home or work, you probably use a password-protected router that encrypts your data. But, when you’re on the road, you might be tempted to use free, public Wi-Fi.The problem with public Wi-Fi is that it is often unsecured. This means it’s relatively easy for a hacker to access your device or information. That’s why you should consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN). A VPN is a piece of software that creates a secure connection over the internet, so you can safely connect from anywhere.

3. Use a Firewall. Even if your network is secure, you should still use a firewall. This an electronic barrier that blocks unauthorized access to your computers and devices, and is often included with comprehensive security software. Using a firewall ensures that all of the devices connected to your network are secured, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices like smart thermostats and webcams. This is important since many IoT devices aren’t equipped with security measures, giving hackers a vulnerable point of entry to your entire network.

4. Click Smart. Now that you’ve put smart tech measures into place, make sure that you don’t invite danger with careless clicking. Many of today’s online threats are based on phishing or social engineering. This is when you are tricked into revealing personal or sensitive information for fraudulent purposes. Spam emails, phony “free” offers, click bait, online quizzes and more all use these tactics to entice you to click on dangerous links or give up your personal information. Always be wary of offers that sound too good to be true, or ask for too much information.

5. Be a Selective Sharer. These days, there are a lot of opportunities to share our personal information online. Just be cautious about what you share, particularly when it comes to your identity information. This can potentially be used to impersonate you, or guess your passwords and logins.

6. Protect Your Mobile Life. Our mobile devices can be just as vulnerable to online threats as our laptops. In fact, mobile devices face new risks, such as risky apps and dangerous links sent by text message. Be careful where you click, don’t respond to messages from strangers, and only download apps from official app stores after reading other users’ reviews first. Make sure that your security software is enabled on your mobile, just like your computers and other devices.

7. Practice Safe Surfing & Shopping. When shopping online, or visiting websites for online banking or other sensitive transactions, always make sure that the site’s address starts with “https”, instead of just “http”, and has a padlock icon in the URL field. This indicates that the website is secure and uses encryption to scramble your data so it can’t be intercepted by others. Also, be on the lookout for websites that have misspellings or bad grammar in their addresses. They could be copycats of legitimate websites. Use a safe search tool such as McAfee SiteAdvisor to steer clear of risky sites.

8. Keep up to date. Keep all your software updated so you have the latest security patches. Turn on automatic updates so you don’t have to think about it, and make sure that your security software is set to run regular scans.

9. Lookout for the latest scams. Online threats are evolving all the time, so make sure you know what to look out for. Currently, ransomwareis on the rise. This is when a hacker threatens to lock you out of all of your files unless you agree to pay a ransom. Stay on top of this and other threats by staying informed.

10. Keep your guard up. Always be cautious about what you do online, which sites you visit, and what you share. Use comprehensive security software, and make sure to backup your data on a regular basis in case something goes wrong. By taking preventative measures, you can save yourself from headaches later on.

Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.



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Snap Map: What Parents Need To Know Now

July 3rd, 2017

Just when we were finally getting our heads around Snapchat, now the world’s most popular photo messaging app has added a new feature – cutely named Snap Map – that allows users to share their precise location. And parents are rightly concerned.

Designed to make it easy to meet up with friends, Snap Map allows users to share their exact location on an interactive map with their friends every time they open the app. But this interactive map is so detailed that you can track a user to the exact house in a street!

What Is Snap Map?

Snap Map is intended to help users see what’s going on in the world in real time via a virtual map. Users can easily locate their friends on this map as well as view events and snaps from around the world. Snapchat is clearly trying to lose its title as a ‘secret messaging app’ and create an interactive online community.

So, What’s The Fuss About?

In short – Snap Map affects users’ privacy. Without realising it, users may be sharing their exact location (via an Actionmoji) which could potentially expose them to predators. And with a significant proportion of users under the age of 18… well, you can see why parents are feeling a little stressed.

In their defence, Snapchat has made it clear that users do need to provide their consent and actively opt-in to be visible on Snap Map. And while I commend them for this, social media-thirsty teens don’t always think of the consequences of consenting to the latest must-have apps and add-ons. Risk is not always top of mind!

What Do Users Need To Do?

1. Download the latest version of Snapchat

Since the feature you need is only available in the latest version of the app, update your app so you can disable Snap Map.

2. Activate Ghost Mode

I strongly recommend that you ensure your kids’ phones are set to Ghost Mode, which means their location will NOT be shared. So here’s how to do it:

  • First, launch Snap Map by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen like you’re zooming out from a photo.
  • It then gives you the option of sharing your location. You can choose to share your location with all your friends, some of them, or none of them by activating Ghost Mode.

3. Consider turning off Location Services

Obviously, Ghost Mode is definitely the safer option as other users won’t be able to see your whereabouts. However, don’t forget Snapchat can still track your location. If you want to make sure this just can’t happen, you need to turn off location services in your phone’s Settings. Simply select Snapchat, click on Location and choose never to share. Or disable them altogether – even better!

4. Don’t forget Facebook and Apple

Facebook and Apple both offer a location-based friend finding add-on that comes with the exact same privacy concerns. Facebook’s Nearby Friends allows you to quickly locate your friends, as does Apple’s Find My Friends. Please use these with caution.

Finding a teen in 2017 who doesn’t have Snapchat is a little like the search for a four-leafed clover. Very rare! Like it or not, Snapchat and its friends Instagram and Facebook form a very big part of their world. So, figuring out a way to work with your teen to make their experiences on Snapchat as safe as possible is the name of the game here. Explain the risks, show them how to activate Ghost Mode, and then monitor very closely.

And don’t forget to download Snapchat yourself. Remember, it’s all about developing some ‘tech cred’ so your teen will be more likely to come to you if they have an issue. Just another thing for your to-do list, folks!

Take care

Alex x

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Snap Map: What Parents Need To Know Now

July 3rd, 2017

Just when we were finally getting our heads around Snapchat, now the world’s most popular photo messaging app has added a new feature – cutely named Snap Map – that allows users to share their precise location. And parents are rightly concerned.

Designed to make it easy to meet up with friends, Snap Map allows users to share their exact location on an interactive map with their friends every time they open the app. But this interactive map is so detailed that you can track a user to the exact house in a street!

What Is Snap Map?

Snap Map is intended to help users see what’s going on in the world in real time via a virtual map. Users can easily locate their friends on this map as well as view events and snaps from around the world. Snapchat is clearly trying to lose its title as a ‘secret messaging app’ and create an interactive online community.

So, What’s The Fuss About?

In short – Snap Map affects users’ privacy. Without realising it, users may be sharing their exact location (via an Actionmoji) which could potentially expose them to predators. And with a significant proportion of users under the age of 18… well, you can see why parents are feeling a little stressed.

In their defence, Snapchat has made it clear that users do need to provide their consent and actively opt-in to be visible on Snap Map. And while I commend them for this, social media-thirsty teens don’t always think of the consequences of consenting to the latest must-have apps and add-ons. Risk is not always top of mind!

What Do Users Need To Do?

1. Download the latest version of Snapchat

Since the feature you need is only available in the latest version of the app, update your app so you can disable Snap Map.

2. Activate Ghost Mode

I strongly recommend that you ensure your kids’ phones are set to Ghost Mode, which means their location will NOT be shared. So here’s how to do it:

  • First, launch Snap Map by pinching the Snapchat camera home screen like you’re zooming out from a photo.
  • It then gives you the option of sharing your location. You can choose to share your location with all your friends, some of them, or none of them by activating Ghost Mode.

3. Consider turning off Location Services

Obviously, Ghost Mode is definitely the safer option as other users won’t be able to see your whereabouts. However, don’t forget Snapchat can still track your location. If you want to make sure this just can’t happen, you need to turn off location services in your phone’s Settings. Simply select Snapchat, click on Location and choose never to share. Or disable them altogether – even better!

4. Don’t forget Facebook and Apple

Facebook and Apple both offer a location-based friend finding add-on that comes with the exact same privacy concerns. Facebook’s Nearby Friends allows you to quickly locate your friends, as does Apple’s Find My Friends. Please use these with caution.

Finding a teen in 2017 who doesn’t have Snapchat is a little like the search for a four-leafed clover. Very rare! Like it or not, Snapchat and its friends Instagram and Facebook form a very big part of their world. So, figuring out a way to work with your teen to make their experiences on Snapchat as safe as possible is the name of the game here. Explain the risks, show them how to activate Ghost Mode, and then monitor very closely.

And don’t forget to download Snapchat yourself. Remember, it’s all about developing some ‘tech cred’ so your teen will be more likely to come to you if they have an issue. Just another thing for your to-do list, folks!

Take care

Alex x

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How to Protect Your Child from Identity Theft in 8 Easy Steps

June 27th, 2017

With all the things to knock out on your parenting to-do list, when’s the last time you thought to monitor the status of your child’s identity? If you look at the growing risks, monitoring your child’s identity — starting as early as birth — could become as important as regular dental check-ups.

Identity fraud is at an all-time high with 15.4 million U.S. victims in 2016, up 16 percent, according to the latest Javelin Strategy study. An earlier Javelin report focusing on child identity theft estimated that 1 in 40 U.S. households with children under age 18 had at least one child whose personal information had been compromised by thieves.

Sadly, anyone with a name and a social security number (SSN) is prone to identity theft — yes, even our children. Identity thieves are increasingly using children’s SSNs since theft in this age group often goes undiscovered for extended periods of time, often until the child grows up and applies for a car or student loan. Thieves often use a child’s identity to apply for government benefits, to open bank and credit card accounts, apply for a loan or utility service, or rent a place to live.

These ambivalent thieves don’t play favorites and have learned the hot spots for child identity data: schools, pediatrician offices, banks, (stealing) mom’s purses, and (robbing) home offices. A growing area of concern involves medical identity theft, which gives thieves the ability to access prescription drugs and even expensive medical treatments.

8 things parents can do:

  1. Educate your kids. Talk candidly to your child about identity theft and the fallout. Help your child understand the tricks of those who make a living stealing the identities of others. Instruct them to keep private information private and to ask you for permission before sharing personal information with anyone.
  2.  Alert your kids to online scams. Identity thieves will befriend children online and chat them up for private information with the goal of using that information to steal their identity. Thieves are skilled at trolling social networks looking at user profiles for birth dates, addresses, and names of family members to piece together the identity puzzle. child identity theft
  3. File a fraud alert. By submitting a fraud alert in your child’s name with the credit bureaus several times a year, you will be able to catch any credit fraud early. Since your child hasn’t built any credit, anything that comes back will be illegal activity. The fraud alert will remain in place for only 90 days. When the time runs out, you’ll need to reactivate the alert. You can achieve the same thing by filing an earnings report from the Social Security Administration. The report will reveal any earnings acquired under your child’s social security number.
  4. Know the warning signs. If a thief is using your child’s data, you may notice: 1) Pre-approved credit card offers addressed to them arriving via mail 2) Collection agencies calling and asking to speak to your child 3) Court notices regarding delinquent bills.If any of these things happen your first step is to call and freezetheir credit with the three credit reporting agencies:  Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion.
  5. Get security software. One safeguard against identity theft of any kind is full device security such as McAfee LiveSafe™ service.
  6. Be aware of data risks. Thieves can get your child’s information in several ways. For example, a family member may want to use a child’s identity to start over, or a parent may have a questionable girlfriend or boyfriend living in the home or visiting often. Another way information gets stolen if a parent loses a wallet, purse, or personal paperwork that has a child’s SSN information on it. A digital security breach at a bank, pediatrician’s office, or business could also land your child’s information in criminal hands.child identity theft
  7. Get fierce about protecting your child’s data. Draw a very thick line when it comes to sharing your child’s SSN as well as secondary information such as date of birth, address, and mothers’ maiden name. Also, never carry your child’s (or your) physical Social Security card in your wallet or purse. Keep it in a safe place, preferably under lock and key, where thieves can find it. Only share your child’s data when necessary (school registration, passport application, education savings plan, etc.) and only with trusted individuals.
  8. Report theft. If you find a violation of your child’s credit of any kind, your first step is to call IdentityTheft.gov to report the crime and begin the process of restoring your child’s credit. This will include 1) Filing a report with the FTC online or call 877-438-4338; 2) filing a police report; 3) contacting credit agencies and request the removal of all accounts, inquiries, and collection notices linked with your child’s name and SSN; 4) contacting creditors and request they close any account associated with your child’s SSN; 5) keeping a detailed journal of every person you contacted, the dates and times, and notes on each conversation.

This pro-active mindset can be a bit unnerving. However, with the current data spills, the weekly news regarding security breaches have started to lose their shock factor. Taking these few steps and getting fierce about data protection can save your child (and you) countless hours and even years of credit headaches. Identity theft can affect a job search, a mortgage rate, and sadly, even a victim’s self-esteem for years to come.

Toni Birdsong is a Family Safety Evangelist to McAfee. You can find her on Twitter @IntelSec_Family. (Disclosures).

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Why You Need to Watch Out When Using Public Wi-Fi

May 12th, 2017

If you’re like most people, you like to stay connected whether you are traveling or just on the go. That’s why it can be tempting to connect to free, public Wi-Fi networks, but you should know that these networks could open you up to some serious risks.

Public Wi-Fi networks often lack a security measure called encryption, which scrambles the information sent from your computer or device to the router so strangers cannot read it. Without this security measure in place, the information you send over these networks can potentially be intercepted by cybercrooks.

This information could include your banking and social media passwords, as well as your identity information. A nosy cybercriminal could also potentially snoop on you by watching which websites you visit, and what you type into web forms.

In fact, it is so easy to steal your information over unsecured networks cybercrooks sometimes setup malicious Wi-Fi hotspots in high-traffic areas, like airports, with the intention of grabbing users’ information.

That’s why if you have to connect when you’re away, you should only use secure and well-advertised Wi-Fi networks. You can usually tell if they use encryption because they require a password to join.

If you have to do something sensitive online, like check your bank account balance or make a purchase, try to stick to webpages that start with “HTTPS” rather than just “HTTP”. The “S” stands for secure, and indicates that the site uses encryption to protect your data. You can also look for a green lock icon at the beginning of the browser address, which indicates that the website connection is secure.

If you are on your mobile phone, you can skip the Wi-Fi network altogether and connect using the cellular network. It is somewhat more secure, since it’s harder for cybercrooks to sniff out your individual data from others on the network.

If you travel a lot, consider investing in a Virtual Private Network (VPN), which is a piece of software that allows you to create a secure connection to another network over the Internet. Anyone potentially trying to snoop on you will only see that you are connected to the VPN, and not what you are doing.

Of course, the most important thing is to remember that using public Wi-Fi is always risky, and requires some extra steps to protect your data.

Here are some more tips to help keep you safe:

  • Think twice before connecting to any public Wi-Fi network, especially if it does not require a password to join.
  • Avoid using free, public computers. Cybercriminals sometimes place compromised computers in legitimate Wi-Fi hotspots with the intention of spreading malware or stealing your data.
  • Try to save sensitive transactions, like banking and online shopping, for your secure home or work networks.
  • If you do use a public network, stick to sites that begin with “HTTPS” so you know they are secure. The HTTPS Everywhere browser extension can direct you to encrypted pages when available. Also, look for the green lock icon in the browser’s address bar.
  • When using your laptop, make sure to turn off “sharing” of your folders and devices so no one else on the network can access them. A quick web search can tell you how to do this on your operating system.
  • Use comprehensive security software and keep it up-to-date. If your software includes a firewall, make sure to enable it.

Looking for more mobile security tips and trends? Be sure to follow @McAfee Home on Twitter, and like us on Facebook.



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